Half time committee report! What’s happening this week…

by Rob Roper

 

HOUSE

The Agriculture committee will dig into (get it) H. 409 – An act relating to the control of invasive

plant species. The bill essentially plans for the “eradication and suppression” of “alien species whose introduction causesor is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Why these undocumented plants aren’t due the same government benefits and protections as natural born plants is a mystery to me. They’re just doing jobs in the ecosystem that local plants aren’t willing to do.

The Commerce Committee H. 259 – An act relating to increasing the number of members on the liquor control board. Apparently a designated driver is needed.

Holy cow, this is real! When I first saw H. 361 – An act relating to Vermont dollars, introduced by Rep. Fisher of Lincoln, I immediately thought it must be authorizing a new lottery game or something, but was prepared to joke about how they’re crazy enough I Montpelier to want to start printing our own currency to solve the budget gap…. But that’s actually what this is. Fisher wants to start printing some sort of Vermont money. What could go wrong with this plan?! Apparently you can’t make this stuff up, even when you’re trying.

Education will consider two very important bills this week, neither of which appear to be going any where. H. 179 – An act relating to requiring the state to pay for 100 percent of special education expenditures and Rep. Greg Clark’s H. 296 – An act relating to expanding school choice and authorizing the creation of charter schools.

Fish & Wildlife H. 407 – An act relating to imposing a royalty for the extraction of groundwater for commercial resale. There is hereby imposed on each manufacturer a groundwater withdrawal royalty of $0.28 per gallon of groundwater withdrawn from a well or a spring within the state of Vermont for the purpose of sale or the purpose of sale to another for resale. Introduced by Rep. Dave Sharpe, Bristol, (Fisher’s seat-mate) Vermont. Yet another tax on yet another promising Vermont business, not to mention a pretty blatant assault on property rights. But no worries. The bill defines “Manufacturer” as “any processor, bottler, or other person whowithdraws groundwater in the state of Vermont for the purpose of selling or reselling the groundwater for consumption by human beings [emphasis added].” Look for Purina Puppy Chug in a pet store near you.

They will also be taking up H. 53 – An act relating to the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. After my experience with the Vermont Monopoly Money bill, I couldn’t bring myself to read what this was about for fear that my initial reaction to what a “wildlife violator” could be might turn out to be what it actually is.

Government Operations is considering H. 440 – An act relating to creating an agency and secretary of education and amending the membership and purpose of the state board of education. This actually makes some sense.

With H.202 off their plate and over to the senate, the Health Care committee will engage their brains with H. 90 – An act relating to Lyme disease. I will assume they’re against it.

This quote from John Gregg’s article, Census suggests N.H. has an edge, “But three abutters appealed [a developer of low income housing’s act 250 permit], including a Vermont Law School professor who maintained that his enjoyment of growing vegetables, herbs and fruit on his 4.7-acre property would be ‘greatly diminished’ by having to look at houses that might be built on prime farmland in the proposed subdivision,” tells you just how serious the Judiciary Committee’s decision on H. 258 – An act relating to public participation in environmental enforcement proceedings, will be.

 

SENATE

The senate is now taking up several bills passed by the house, the most important of which is, of course, H.202, which is now under consideration in Senate Health and Welfare.

The Agriculture Committee will take up H. 52 – An act relating to the definition of poultry products which would make life easier for hunters of quail, pheasant and partridge.

The Government Operations Committee, still laboring with campaign finance reform and marijuana dispensaries, will dive into S. 63 – An act relating to state purchasing from local and socially responsible businesses. This bill proposes to authorize government procurement preferences for local and socially responsible businesses (AKA, businesses that donate money to politicians).

Natural Resources will consider H. 26 – An act relating to limiting the application of fertilizer containing phosphorus or nitrogen to nonagricultural turf, H. 13 – An act relating to deer doing damage to forest resources, and H. 11 – An act relating to the discharge of pharmaceutical waste to state waters.